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How to Prevent an Arthritis Flare Up

Tips for Steering Clear of a Flare

By

Updated May 15, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Once you have experienced an arthritis flare up, you won't ever forget it. We have defined an arthritis flare and explained how to manage a flare up when it does occur. But, the best course of action is to try to avoid an arthritis flare altogether.

I have compiled some tips for preventing an arthritis flare up. While these tips come with no guarantee that you will never have another, they are common sense actions that we too often ignore for one reason or another. Being mindful of these tips should, at least, reduce your chance for going into a flare up.

Be Compliant With Your Treatment Plan

Once your doctor has established a treatment regimen for you, stick with the plan. Don't skip your medications or other treatments. It is important to keep inflammation and pain under control. Skipping medications gives your body a chance to flare up, allowing pain and inflammation to increase. Arthritis can be likened to the embers of a fire, smoldering and looking for an opportunity to re-ignite. Don't knowingly give it a chance.

Keep Moving But Pace Your Activities

Doctors recommend that arthritis patients keep moving in order to maintain range-of-motion in their joints and muscle strength. But, at the same time, it is important not to overdo activities. Overdoing activities and ignoring physical limitations can provoke a flare up. The advice to pace your activities seems unbelievably obvious, but the desire to not be held back by arthritis makes it hard to do. Find the balance that keeps you moving at a reasonable pace.

Protect Your Joints

It is important for us not to stress our joints or add extra burden to the mechanics of our joints, especially those already affected by arthritis. Following a few simple principles can help us protect our joints, and by doing so, decrease pain and inflammation and the risk of a flare up.

Reduce Stress

Stress has a negative impact on arthritis. Just about anyone you know with arthritis will tell you that stress of any kind worsens their arthritis symptoms. Certainly, life is not without stress. Sometimes it is beyond our control (e.g., death of a loved one, losing a job, divorce). But other times, we have more control. We should do what we can to simplify our lives, organize, conserve energy, and develop an attitude of acceptance. Cutting stress may help to cut the risk of an arthritis flare up.

Get Enough Rest and Sleep

Getting a decent amount of rest and sleep is important for people with arthritis. We need to rest our bodies even more than the average, healthy human. Don't take this advice too far -- we are not suppose to become sedentary in our lives. We are suppose to strike a balance between rest and activity that will help improve our overall health. Disrupted sleep, especially on a regular basis, seems to increase pain and the risk for a flare up. This can be tough to get a handle on though because it's a vicious cycle at times, with arthritis disrupting sleep and disrupted sleep making arthritis worse.

Stay Away From Foods That Make You Feel Worse

The effect of diet on arthritis has been disputed for years. Some claim there is no direct effect, while others claim certain foods increase inflammation and make arthritis symptoms worse. This is likely the most individual tip of all those listed. If you are aware that certain foods make your arthritis feel worse, steer clear. This will not be the case for every person with arthritis, but if it does apply to you, don't eat inflammation-promoting foods.

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